Vidaview Life Story Board™ Development History

The Life Story Board™ was invented in 1995 by Canadian doctor Rob Chase MD, while doing community research with Sri Lankan children in war-affected communities. The original version was based on the genogram, which is a pictorial display of a person’s family relationships and medical history.  An elaboration of this model was rendered into a card and mat activity in the Butterfly Peace Garden expressive arts program in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, and tested in pre- and post-sessions with 20 children.

The amma-appa game was an early version of the Life Story Board, used by war-affected Sri Lankan children at the Butterfly Peace Garden expressive arts program.

The ‘Amma-Appa Game’ was an early version of the Life Story Board.


Dr. Chase and his colleagues have subsequently developed and refined Life Story Board™ methods over fifteen years of extensive project work, exploring alternative modes of interaction with children that might elicit rich information without relying on questionnaires and conventional interview methods.

In 2004 the Life Story Board™ toolkit was incorporated into the methods for evaluating Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Canada’s More Than Bandages Program, as a model mental health program based on creative arts approaches for children affected by armed conflict. The MSF prototype was pilot tested in Winnipeg, Canada with refugee children.

Further developments of LSB methods occurred through demonstration sessions with aboriginal undergraduate Social Work students in University of Manitoba’s Aboriginal Focus Program. Many of these students were Child and Family Service workers who provided helpful feedback and insight into potential applications in their community settings.

Early Story Board Version

An early version of the Life Story Board


In 2007 the Life Story Board™ and other innovative activities were pilot tested by War Child Canada, as potential tools for program monitoring and evaluation with groups of schoolchildren in internally displaced person (IDP) camps in Northern Uganda .

In post-session debriefings, feedback from the participating Acholi children was generally positive: that creating a colourful picture of their personal story, even though that story included suffering, was empowering and comforting; that they were warmed by the opportunity to recollect and reflect on lost family members; that the process helped them gain new perspectives overall.


War-affected children in northern Uganda use a Life Story Board™ prototype.

You can view slide shows from several of the early pilot projects in our gallery here.